In the Stars

Astrology: yes or no? Believer or scoffer? I honestly am not sure. I’m a Cancer (I hate saying that, because it sounds like I’m a disease). And I could be the poster child for Cancerians: a sensitive, ocean-loving, moonbeaming, moody, wanderer — well, not the wanderer part, because Cancers are supposed to be homebodies. Other than that, I suppose there’s some validity to it. I studied up on it quite a bit, along with herbology and palmistry, during my esoteric semi-hippie early days in Colorado.

It was also terribly in vogue when I was in high school. There seems to be a resurgent interest among K and her friends, which makes me wonder if it’s something that captivates us at that cusp of adulthood, that perhaps we hope to gain understanding of and direction for ourselves as we gaze into a future shrouded in fog. Because of her, I’ve developed a renewed interest in the subject.

Back in the days of yore, the go-to astrology text was Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs. I gave K a copy for Christmas a couple of years ago so she could see how things have evolved since the 1980s. You wouldn’t think astrology would change, but it seemingly has — becoming more detailed and specific. I did have the pleasure of staying in Linda Goodman’s former home in — who’d have thunk it — Cripple Creek, Colorado, which had become a Bed and Breakfast. And a haunted Bed and Breakfast, no less. I was in town for a ghost adventure at the former jail (and an adventure it was, may I say) and made the mistake of telling my hostess at the B&B about it, which led to her having me go into the basement to see what I could pick up from a ghost perspective (also an adventure). The next time I went to town, this particular B&B was closed; the ghosts may have been too much for her.

I’m a fan of Rob Brezsny’s astrological divinations and musings in his Free Will Astrology column/email. Having just googled him, he doesn’t look like what I’d expected, but he looks exactly like what an astrologer should look like. Who really knows how sound any of it is, but I’ve found his insights and predictions to be pretty on track over the last ten years or so. He also seems to tap into a certain esoteric level of rational thought that I very much appreciate. I’ve enjoyed his book Pronoia, which also amused a crew of market researchers who visited my house some years back to interview me on my love of Toyotas.

K has introduced me to Co — Star, which is an app instead of a column, but I guess that’s what all the cool kids are doing these days. It’s very specific, based on one’s date/time of birth. I (of course) know my birth date, but am not so sure of my birth time. My birth certificate doesn’t list it and my folks are somewhere in the stars themselves now, so I can’t ask them. But I’ve made my best guess in the hope that, whatever this app produces based on birth time, close enough is close enough. The little astrological messages are somewhat cryptic, which is both good and bad, but intriguing and make me ponder. For example, today’s central message: “A tongue that lacks self-control is a fire.” That one is pretty self-explanatory. But the “Dos” and “Don’ts”, I’m not so sure of: Dos: Ice cream, Sunshine, Venting. I don’t have ice cream and there has been very little sunshine today, but yes, I have vented to K. Don’ts: Clutch pearls, Pathos, Narratives. Not a huge pearl-clutcher, but it could have happened during the venting; not really expressing Pathos (took care of that last weekend); and Narratives….? Well, I guess this is one, so that really should have been part of the “Do” list.

On the purely pragmatic side, I love the stars themselves. M and I have a wonderful memory of driving to Santa Fe one dark night before Christmas when we first started dating, and we’d never seen so many stars. That memory still stands, even after seeing nothing but stars during a power outage in Costa Rica. And on the anniversary of our first date, we drove up to a meadow in Gilpin County and froze ourselves sitting in the bed of the truck watching a meteor shower. But anyplace under the stars with him is perfect. My horoscope said nothing about being sappy.

Daily gratitudes:
Fingerless gloves
The woman who crossed herself before driving away from the Emergency Room
My marvelous niece who has a birthday today
The new way Mr. Man snuggled in last night

Winter Blues

This should be a poem. I feel a poem brewing in me, but it hasn’t steeped enough yet to be birthed. So I’m putting fingers to keyboard for a half-version — a “po”, if you will. Something that expresses the sentiments without the lyricism.

Depression has been a constant companion for me in this lifetime. I’ve done all the right things — therapy, anti-depressants, herbs, diet, exercise — and 90 percent of the time these days, I keep it at bay. But when it comes on me, it comes like an avalanche, and I don’t have an avalanche beacon and I’m buried under tons and tons of weight. I always dig myself out. Always. Because of promises I’ve made. Usually, it’s bad for a day or a night, a short, yet tolerable length of time. This bout has been particularly vicious.

I haven’t slept well in four days, plagued by nightmares (a rarity for me), hot flashes (also something that hasn’t happened in years) and thirst. I mourn for everything — people, opportunities, choices — and cannot find solace in the many blessings and joys in my life. I yearn for sea breezes, for a future without a set date, when we are settled in the Retreat for summer and living on a beach during the bleak, cold, grey-brown of winter. This darkness has been my companion for two days now, which is not long in the grand scheme of things, but feels like an eternity while I’m in its midst. Digging oneself out from under an avalanche is slow-going at best.

Tears come easily and of their own accord, triggered by nothing, something, everything, Not in a deluge, but in a welling, a prickling in my eyes, half-formed (like this po), and unwilling to spill. I find myself inconsolably lonely, grieving the past and the people I’ve lost.

I say a prayer each night, that tomorrow will be better, but so far my prayers are failing me, falling not on deaf ears, because that’s not how prayers work. Which means there’s something I am supposed to learn from this. There’s always a lesson, isn’t there? Some are just harder to puzzle out. So I force myself to eat. I have some sweet warm tea. I take a shower. I do a load of laundry. I sort through some clothes, setting some aside for charity. I do 100 sit-ups. I change the sheets. I look for words of comfort in random places. And I find the merest crumb of peace. I scan the darkening skies for a metaphorical dove with an olive branch. And I hope for a better morning.

Playing with Time

“The happier the time, the shorter it seems.” So said Pliny the Elder in the Year 105. I don’t know that I agree with this statement. Time and I have been curious companions since my teenage years. The events that are most clear in my memory are those in which I found myself most present — giving birth to my daughter and watching the passing of my mother. In those instances, I was more conscious of the here and now than at any other time in my life. My mind didn’t fly off on tangents, thoughts of what to do next, or old memories. There’s a lesson in that for me, a lesson of being completely present at all times, and not lost in my own head, as I am so wont to be.

For decades, I’ve considered myself something of a time witch. I often can slow time down if I’m late for something, though I’ve not mastered the ability to speed up time when something is unbearably long or dull. I’ve experienced interruptions in time. Like seeing someone walking into a pool at the hot springs, and then seeing them ACTUALLY walk into the pool. These kind of things are disconcerting, but not upsetting. They make me question the linear concept of time, as well as the reality of what we perceive.

Most physicists maintain that the future does not exist because it hasn’t happened yet. I know next to nothing about physics, having only been instructed in it in high school by a former nun who played the fiddle. Besides, my mind just doesn’t work that way, perhaps because of my skepticism about such things as time. Ex-Pat always said that logic wasn’t my strong suit. I disagree. Scientific logic, while provable, does not take into account the mysteries of our existence.

There are so many things that are inexplicable in this universe. Why do we recognize people whom we’ve never met before? What is the origin of those dreams that are so vivid that we wake up physically feeling an item in our hand that we were holding in the dream? What happens to our spirit upon our death?

These sorts of experiences that have no real connection to our present-day lives speak to the possibility of so much more than linear time. They suggest parallel realities, past lives, fractures in the fabric of time. Can we live in the past as well as the future? Will we someday understand the root of such mysteries? I think we must let go of our own rigidity and our fear of the unknown in order to accept such flexible realities. That’s a huge challenge for most, and not one that I would even know how to start investigating. Just like how some of us completely lose our sense of direction in some places, as if our internal compass has been tossed out of the car window (but we’ll talk about that later). For now, I’ll continue to play with time, as it plays with me.

Island time is another well-known phenomenon that I’ll discuss in a future post.

Opining on February

I echo Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s feeling on the month of February, so well expressed in his poem “Afternoon in February”. The first stanza reads as follows:

“The day is ending,
The night is descending;
The marsh is frozen,
The river dead.”

Trust me, it just goes downhill from there, ending with the line “Like a funeral bell.” You can imagine.

This February, in particular, is rough. I have finally reached a point of being fed up with not being able to go out to dinner, shoot pool, have a drink at a bar, cater a wedding. Colorado, too, seems to have changed its tune wind-wise. We’re having chinooks in February now, instead of January, and as stated in yesterday’s poem, I’m just not a fan of the wind. M told me when we met that he just thinks February is an asshole. I always thought that was January; he’s now converted me.

But to be peppy and upbeat (which really is not me all the time), here is Seasweetie’s Positive February Thought List:

  1. The days are getting longer. It may not seem like it, but I can judge this well, because we usually drive back from the Retreat right around the same time. A few weeks ago, it was full dark by 5:30. Now, we can enjoy a longer twilight, which also means more deer spotting and cautionary driving, but it’s gently beautiful.
  2. There are fewer days in the month. That’s nothing new, but thank the heavens for it.
  3. Valentine’s Day. Yes, I know it’s sappy and trite, but I love it anyway. I like giving presents and while I don’t need an excuse to do so, I enjoy having a little celebratory reason for it. Besides, the origins of Valentine’s Day are fascinating, with not one, but TWO Saint Valentines being beheaded by Claudius II, and the christianization of the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, a fertility festival. (I suspect they dropped the goat sacrifices, the whippings, and the drawing of eligible young townswomen’s names from a giant urn to find mates for the men.)
  4. The occasional sense of spring can be felt if you pay REALLY close attention to the feel of the air.
  5. My twee-woo bird is back. I don’t know what kind of bird it is, and I’ve actually never seen it, but it always comes back as a harbinger of spring, like the swallows returning to Capistrano (which supposedly happens on March 19). It has a very distinctive call (hence why I call it the twee-woo bird) and I like to think it’s singing just for me.
  6. I’m anticipating that I might see a few green shoots of something (snowdrops, grape hyacinths, crocuses) on a walk this month.
  7. We’re one month closer to getting into the Retreat full-time than we were one month ago.

Of course, usually by this time, I have a plane ticket in hand and am making packing lists for somewhere warm and tropical with turquoise water and white sand beaches. But everybody knows that when you buy a house and start to move, you become house-poor and that lasts for at least a year. Such is the case with us. We’re having to do things like figure out fire mitigation and snowplows, and home improvements for the Bungalow and M’s house, so I am facing the reality that I won’t see an ocean until July. I’ve been blessed by being able to travel as I have, and it will happen again. Just not this spring. This spring, I will have beautiful hikes and slight sunburns and deep snowfalls and good music and a few perfect days. Let’s just get through February.

Daily gratitudes:
My stir-fry
Leggings with pockets
Dancing
My neighbor’s chickens
Carrie, the wonderful lady on the phone at the insurance company, who didn’t mind that I cried, and started to cry with me.

Wind Swept: An Original Thursday Poem

Wind whipped her,
Flailed her,
Sending fragments of her to flight above
The captured clouds
Walled in
Behind the mountains.

Reminded her of a fairy story,
A morbid favorite of her childhood
In which
A magician whipped a sobbing young woman
as they flew on the winds,
punishment for some now forgotten trespass.

That rude wind that
No matter how many bright sides she tries to find
Always
Just always,
Beats her body
Fights with her soul
Shortens her temper
Makes her long for some gentle soft breeze
Ruffling the palm trees
On a far shore.

Instead, the cruel wind sweeps her inside
To sulk in hot water,
Soothing her spirit in the cold west,
And listen to the chimes being blown in the night.



Daily gratitudes:
Hot water
Soup
Good choices by elected officials
That the quasi-quarantine is keeping us healthy

What Did You Want To Be?

I’m a writer. And I love that I’m a writer. However, this was not my chosen path. I’m a living example of “life’s what happens when you’re making other plans”. While I have always been a writer, there was only one point in my life (before the last decade) that I really wanted to commit myself to being a writer. It was spring of my sophomore year in college, and I remember it well.

I knew I didn’t want to stay in Boston. I was just too naive for the big city life that I thought I wanted. After escaping a sexual assault literally by the grace of God, and watching the building across the street from my house be engulfed in flames by an arsonist who was striking all over the neighborhood, along with some other distressing events, I knew I didn’t want to stay there. I went home to surprise my parents for a long weekend, and I told them I needed to move. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to stay in school. So I floated the idea of moving to Ocracoke Island, getting a restaurant job, and writing for a year. Surprisingly, they supported this notion. That may have been all I needed to hear — that they would support my stepping off the college track and trying something different — because I moved to Colorado and kept going to college.

However.

I forgot what I had always wanted to be when I grew up.

Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a nurse.

How this could have completely slipped my mind when I decided to go to college, I do not know. My brother made this same observation a few years back. I was a candy striper from the time I was allowed to be. I volunteered in the old hospital until the new County hospital was built, and then I volunteered there. I logged more hours than anyone ever had in the program. I only stopped when I got a job to help pay for college. And then I just….forgot.

Maybe it was because I wasn’t very good at science. At my high school graduation, my chemistry teacher gave me a vase that he had hand-carved and told me I tried harder and did worse than any student he had ever had. Perhaps that threw me off my plan. I did avoid any science class I could throughout college, until in senior year, I realized I needed freshman biology to graduate (the only time I was ever grateful for a C minus).

Later in life, I remembered this goal. I thought about going back to school for nursing. But Ex-Pat had been a respiratory therapist at one time and was not encouraging. He said nurses were treated like the crap they had to clean up. So I let the goal go again, and just fell into a career path that took me to health care marketing for private companies. It was a pretty satisfying career. The goal came up again with Dr. Narcissist, who also discouraged me, so I let it go again. I don’t even feel like exploring the reasons he didn’t think it was a good idea. And I got a job writing.

But now, M encourages me to do anything. I’ve thought about going back to school, but when I think about how old I’d be when I finished and got my first job, it’s just daunting. I’ve seen my niece completely change careers from engineering to nursing and she couldn’t be happier. She’s found her tribe. I wonder if I’ve missed finding mine (with the exception of catering friends, because we definitely are a tribe unto ourselves).

I’ve told this story about falling off my path to K, and it’s been one of the things she fears most about her own goals. I suspect it’s one of those cautionary tales that will help her keep her focus. Not a bad thing. And as I continue to write, and get back to writing for myself, I am also trying to find the right path to providing care to others. There are a lot of forks in the road to explore once the world settles down a bit.

Have you followed your childhood dreams? Have you found your path? Your tribe? I wonder how many of us wanderers are out there.

Daily gratitudes:
Flights of geese in the morning
K’s new job
Imam Bayildi
Plants that grow despite me

They’re Playing our Song

When do couples usually get “their” song? Is it the song that might be playing during some particularly memorable moment? Something that seems like it’s speaking just to the two of you, that puts words to feelings you have, but couldn’t find words for? Do couples still even have songs? Gone are the days of making cassettes or burning CDs for partners as a sign of love. Do people just share playlists on Spotify now?

I know that at many of the weddings that I’ve worked, the first dance isn’t really the couples’ song, but just whatever the DJ recommends. There are hundreds of suggested “first dance” songs on the interwebs, and I’ve heard hundreds over the years. The memorable ones — which are often songs I haven’t heard before — are the ones that I can tell are that couples’ “song”. One of my favorites wasn’t a bride/groom first dance at all. The groom had the first dance with his little girl, who was about six, to her favorite song from Frozen, and his bride joined them towards the end. I thought that was pure lovely.

Looking back on my past relationships, I wonder why some, which were “meeting the parents” serious, did not result in a song, while others did. I believe it reflects the strength of the relationship. In those where we’ve had a song, we still think of each other fondly, even decades after the romantic relationship ended (with one exception — there’s always one exception). So, let’s travel down memory lane and take a peek at my relationship song playlist, starting with the first and ending with the finest.

The college boyfriend from Boston: “Genesis” by Jorma Kaukonen. The boyfriend was kind of a Deadhead, but also artsy. Our relationship was a bit stormy (my fault – I was young and stupid) but he still kept me company on my last night in town and saw me off at the Greyhound bus station the next morning. On that night, we sat on the floor in his apartment, on the carpet we’d carried home from Sears about half a mile away (a building which is now the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts offices, and in which I had a work meeting once about a dozen years ago, which was weird) and looked into each other’s eyes silently as this played. It’s a sweet memory.

The Ex-Husband (heretofore known as Ex-Pat): “Last Kiss” by J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers. K thinks this is a terribly morbid song to be her parents “song”, and I can’t recollect why it was our song. Ex-Pat had a wonderful singing voice; I have a vague memory of him singing it to me, driving down Highway 93 in his old white Ford Falcon station wagon very early on in our relationship. He also serenaded me with it from a stage in a bar while I was playing pool one night. Another sweet memory.

One Dear Friend: “The Girl from Ipanema” and “I Thought About You”, both by Frank Sinatra. We were as close as a couple could be without ever being a couple. We danced to both of these songs, the former on a balcony in New Orleans in the afternoon light, and the latter in an Italian restaurant in Las Vegas. And we both loved Frank.

The Captain: “Roam” by the B-52s (a song he shared with others that he sailed with) and “My Romance” by Carly Simon. We were in a cab in San Francisco one time, talking about music, and Carly Simon’s name came up, and he made the cab stop and wait while he ran into a music store we just happened to be passing, coming out with a double Carly Simon CD, from which we gravitated to this song. When I knew of the Captain’s death, I was in the car in a traffic jam in Washington, D.C., and was listening to Rod Stewart’s “Sailing”. I cannot listen to that song now.

Ex-fiance Dr. Narcissist: “Come Away with Me” by Norah Jones. This relationship was just what you’d expect from a narcissist, so needless to say, it ended terribly and has taken a decade of recovery and ongoing recognition of how much gaslighting I experienced. In this relationship, I loved like never before, which makes it that much sadder. This song is never to be played in my presence, which is a shame because it’s a beautiful song.

And saving the best for last, my husband M: We have two pieces of music that we think of as our song. “Variations on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” by Ralph Vaughan Williams, which obviously isn’t a song, but we discovered early on that we both liked classical music and that this was a favorite of each of us. You don’t find a lot of classical music lovers out there these days, so I got lucky. The other, which is an actual song, is “True Companion” by Marc Cohn. We’d both wanted a true partner to be in love with, which is what this songs speaks to, and we were blessed to find each other.

I’ve had two weddings (although M says we actually got married three times), and neither was large enough to merit music or dancing. They were both outside, so in the first, the music was the wind in the pines and strangers singing acapella to us from the next rocky promontory over. In the second, the music was the sound of the waves. That sea song was sweet enough — no other accompaniment needed. On our next trip to the Retreat, I think I’ll ask Alexa to play both of our songs. It will be a nice housewarming.

Do you have a song with your partner? If so, tell me what it is in the Comments. I’d love to hear it. One day, I’ll write about having a soundtrack to my life, something I think we all have.

Daily gratitudes:
Hawks on light posts
Housecleaning room by room
Halo Top ice cream
Snuggly Cat

P.S. Mr. Man and I also have a song: “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” by Ava Gardner from the musical Showboat. I have loved this song for decades and only realized this weekend that it actually references “Mr. Man”. It was just meant to be.

Mr. Man, the Snuggly Cat himself.